China ignores US threats over refusal to boycott Russia

China ignores US threats over refusal to boycott Russia

SELISCHEV Nikolay

Washington’s attempts to dictate conditions and “norms of behavior” to Beijing against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis were not crowned with visible success. As Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed in a conversation with US President Joe Biden, the Chinese authorities intend to take an independent position on the issue of Ukraine and consider the West’s total sanctions against Russia “anti-people.” “We will start from the true state of affairs and make our own independent judgments,” Xi Jinping told the American leader during a videoconference. the difficult economic situation in the world.”

Thus, the emphatically concerned tone of the leadership of the United States and the attempts of American officials through threats to instill alarm in China – the largest economic partner of the United States, which Washington is positioning as a rival, were unsuccessful.

Xi Jinping tried to make it clear to Biden that their conversation was not exceptional: a few hours before the conversation with the owner of the White House, he talked with two more foreign leaders – with President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Moreover, earlier the Chinese Foreign Ministry recalled that this dialogue took place precisely at the initiative of the United States. Beijing has not expressed interest in discussing the need to boycott Russia because of Ukraine. In addition, during this two-hour dialogue, the Chinese side focused on the Taiwan issue and reminded the White House that the “bilateral consensus” reached at the highest level in November last year, “some representatives” of the United States do not comply.

“Unethical and irresponsible”

The article “China will never accept US coercion on the Ukrainian issue”, which was published in the newspaper “Huanqiu shibao” shortly before the conversation between Xi Jinping and Biden, cites the position of an unnamed Chinese official, who points to the “unethical and irresponsible” pressure from the United States to China. “The American side should not have any illusions or delusions about this,” he stressed.

It follows from the official’s statements that the PRC will continue to insist that Washington honestly honor its own obligations. He also noted that Beijing is extremely wary of “the desire of the United States for a new Cold War” and attempts to “change China’s system and strengthen alliances against it.”

The official, whose position is given by the publication, essentially conveys the mood of the Chinese leadership, setting out its position in terms that are as close as possible to the statements that concerned Beijing’s friction with Washington on many other bilateral issues. “China will not sit idly by and will certainly take its drastic measures,” the official said.

Cooperation with Russia under sanctions

As I have seen, many Chinese economists and political scientists try to avoid answering questions about how correct they consider Russia’s recognition of the DPR and LPR; how Chinese companies should build cooperation with Moscow at a tangible risk of falling under Western sanctions; in what vein should an ordinary businessman from China interpret the special operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. Experts try to leave all these points without comment, bypass them without touching the essence and limiting themselves to general phrases that repeat the well-known official position.

Some Chinese businessmen are expressing concerns about the indirect effects of anti-Russian sanctions. In particular, those associated with a high probability of disruption of profitable supply chains, which, as they note, will take time to transform in the current unfavorable international environment. Others believe that China has new opportunities to internationalize the yuan and strengthen its position in international markets. However, none of the economists and businessmen with whom I was able to talk directly criticized the Russian military operation in Ukraine, refraining from making any comments.

Regarding the restrictions of the West against Russia in the financial sector, some Chinese experts do not see a big problem. For example, as Xu Wenhong, an employee of the Institute of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), noted, Western countries have repeatedly threatened to exclude the Russian Federation from the SWIFT system. “The Russian payment system SPFS is already mature enough to replace it,” he said. According to the expert, Western sanctions “will become an incentive to use the Russian analogue.”

According to CASS analyst Lu Xiang, the United States and American politicians “should forget about fantasies” because they will not be able to eliminate the problems with the imposition of sanctions and coercive measures. “Without China and Russia, the United States will not be able to regulate the global agenda, overcome political crises and resolve economic issues,” he stressed.

“The United States is trying to drive Russia into a corner by manipulating the Ukrainian issue, and to do the same with China with the help of the Taiwan issue,” said Yang Xiyu, a leading specialist at the China Institute of International Studies (a structure supervised by the Chinese Foreign Ministry).

World War III:

Moreover, Gao Feng, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said last week that Beijing is opposed to US anti-Russian sanctions that destabilize the global market. “China will definitely take the necessary measures and protect the legal rights, as well as the interests of its companies engaged in ordinary trading activities,” he said. “Our country will continue to carry out regular trade and economic cooperation with both the Russian Federation and Ukraine.”

Prospects for dialogue between China and the United States on Ukraine

It is quite possible that against the background of the Ukrainian crisis, China will be able to avoid unnecessary friction with the United States over Ukraine and, thanks to a flexible, well-thought-out, independent and neutral policy, minimize the consequences of pressure from the White House. In the spirit of the strategy followed by the PRC leadership in 2018-2019, at the height of the US-China trade war, the conflict was mitigated by the pragmatic position of Beijing, which allowed the Chinese side to buy time and strengthen its strategic position. In addition, as Chinese experts tend to believe, the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened US sanctions and made them less effective.

Despite the tensions and contradictions between Beijing and Washington, China remains the leading trade and economic partner of the United States. Unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies caught engaging in “unacceptable” cooperation with Russia will ultimately hurt the United States itself. The damage will be caused to numerous American enterprises that have maintained profitable business relations with China for years. This has been repeatedly reminded by the Ministry of Commerce, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry often makes statements accusing US officials of “irresponsible” and “disingenuous” statements, as well as actions that have greatly tarnished the reputation of the White House and discredited the image of American democracy. As the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly stated, Beijing is perplexed when certain Western politicians are taken in an edifying tone and with full confidence in their rightness “to call white black and vice versa.” The PRC government is critical of the West’s subjective understanding of such important universal values ​​as humanism and democracy, and attempts to use them as a pretext for putting pressure on other countries.

As Chinese officials and experts have repeatedly stated, unilateral US sanctions in a multipolar world “have long become an ineffective relic of the Cold War.” According to local political analysts, the “colonial and great-power habits of the West” have long since outlived their usefulness. The Chinese public agrees that important issues should be resolved not on a conflict basis, but by promoting an open and equal dialogue, as well as mutual concessions that do not affect mutual national interests.

Thus, thanks to its independent state policy and, most importantly, actively maintained economic ties with the United States, China is quite capable of preventing a situation where US sanctions against Russia turn into restrictions for the whole world.

War and pandemic

The Russian military operation in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia coincided with the start of a new wave of the pandemic in China, which affected most regions of the country. The largest focus of infection has emerged in the province of Jilin, which maintains active economic contacts with Russia and is located in close proximity to the Russian port of Vladivostok. The neighboring province of Heilongjiang, which acts as a key Chinese region in trade with the Russian Federation, has also recorded many cases of infection. All this, in the context of strict quarantine measures by the PRC authorities, slows down both cross-border goods flows and courier delivery across the country.

Chinese entrepreneurs who maintain regular business contacts with Russia have to take into account the risks caused by the epidemic factor. Over the past two years, it has occasionally led to a decrease in the supply of products from the Russian Federation on Chinese e-commerce sites. On the whole, however, Russian-Chinese trade continues to develop successfully.

Chinese experts express the hope that the events in Ukraine will serve as an impetus for the formation of a more optimal international situation, equally beneficial for both Moscow and Beijing, as well as all other interested parties, including Kyiv. According to them, the socio-economic problems that have been brewing for years have recently become increasingly difficult to shelve, they have surfaced not in the most rosy color, but they have revealed new prospects.

“China is the leading trading partner of both Russia and Ukraine. It is the largest importer of oil and gas in the world, so the conflict between Moscow and Kiev will not turn out to be good for our country. And if we knew that the crisis was inevitable, we would do everything possible to prevent it,” said Chinese Ambassador to Washington Qin Gang. He also noted that in settling the Ukrainian issue, China intends to firmly adhere to the principles and charter of the UN. “The legitimate security concerns of each side need to be taken seriously,” the diplomat added, stressing that China supports constructive international efforts on the issue. The main task, he is sure, is to end the conflict and ensure regional and global stability.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi Jinping’s two-hour conversation with Biden “turned out to be constructive,” both China and the United States acknowledged this. “The parties agreed that each of them will make its own efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis,” the Chinese foreign ministry said. Thus, Beijing promised to take into account Washington’s position on the crisis in Ukraine, but retained an independent policy that ruled out a boycott of Russia.

Courtesy: (TASS)

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